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India-Bangladesh head for seamless transit after Shah clears decks for second land border terminal

The Integrated Check Post (ICP) of Petrapole is the largest land port in South Asia and the 9th largest international immigration port of India

In a major boost to the modernization of infrastructure along the international border between India and Bangladesh, Home Minister Amit Shah laid the foundation stone for the second cargo gate at the Integrated Check Post (ICP) of Petrapole – the largest land port in South Asia – on Tuesday.

Once operational, ‘Maitridwar’ at ICP Petrapole about 80 km from Kolkata will not only give a huge fillip to the bilateral trade – Bangladesh is the 6th largest trade partner of India – but will also enhance border connectivity tremendously.

Already, around 30 percent of land-based trade between India and Bangladesh takes place through the land border crossing of Petrapole – also the 9th largest international immigration port of India – and Benapole checkpoint in Bangladesh.

Since its operationalization in February 2016, the land port has also been witnessing an increasing number of passenger movements with an average of 22 lakh people crossing the border post on either side each year.

Home Minister Shah said on Tuesday that the construction of a second cargo gate will solve the issue of overcrowding at the Integrated Check Post as over 600-700 trucks are coming to Petrapole daily for trading purposes.

He also emphasised that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has provided the Land Ports Authority of India a new momentum, direction, and dimension to take forward the cultural and trade relations with all South Asian countries with whom India shares a land border encompassing over 15,000 kilometers.

There are currently nine land ports operational in India at Attari, Agartala, Petrapole, Raxaul, Jogbani, Moreh, Sutarkandi, Srimantapur and Passenger Terminal Building (PTB) at Dera Baba Nanak. In 2021-22, the land ports in India facilitated trade worth Rs 77,572.99 crore.

“Development of land ports is important for fulfilling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of India becoming a $5 trillion economy. Land Ports Authority of India has moved forward in this direction and taken several initiatives in the last five years,” said Shah.

Spotlighting the focus on improving border infrastructure, trade, people-to-people connectivity, and border village development, he mentioned that the government is making efforts to spread business, industry, and the message of ‘vocal for local’ in the border villages.

In his speech, Shah also reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the India-Bangladesh bilateral relationship and putting in place the requisite modern infrastructure facilitating greater people-to-people connectivity.

“India-Bangladesh relations are based on the values of shared culture, language, art, and life traditions. No one can disrupt the relations between India and Bangladesh. The two nations have followed the same culture for thousands of years and from the birth of Bangladesh till today, India has always played a friendly role in the history of Bangladesh.”

Both countries are holding extensive discussions on the development of railway infrastructure, port infrastructure, Joint Study on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Border Haats, Regional connectivity through Multi-Modal Transportation, Harmonization of Standards, and Mutual Recognition Agreement.

A 900-metre new siding line has already been constructed at Benapole for running freight trains between both countries and a Detailed Project Proposal (DPP) has also been approved to develop a container handling facility at Sirajganj Bazar.